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Teaching and Learning in Studios

Teaching and Learning in Studios

13 June, 2016

Making your studio course most effective

Connect studio assignments with the real world.

Since studio sessions are longer, it is important to give various session activities. Perkins (2005) lists this typical studio session structure breakdown for his studio sessions:

15 minute mini-lecture

45 minute group project

15 minute discussion or mini-lecture

90 minute group project

30 minutes reporting/discussing

Since studio learning involves critiques of the artifact design process and final product, integrate rubrics or guidelines to share with students as a guide for what they are expected to do and how they are going to be assessed.

When critiquing student work in front of a studio class, be sensitive to its effect on the student’s confidence: emphasize a focus on the work/performance rather than the person.

Often large studios can be challenging for the instructor to provide real-time feedback to students. Come up with a strategy for student work groups to indicate how they are doing. Moody (2011) suggests a color-coded card strategy. Students can place the colored cards on their workstation for the instructor or TAs to see.

Green cards = All is well!

Yellow cards = We have a question.

Red cards = We need help now!

Strike a balance with feedback. Providing too much feedback might be overwhelming and discouraging, whereas too little might leave students with not enough guidance.

Work with students on how to self-assess as they move along the creation or design process.

Assessing student learning in studios

Refer to the learning outcomes of the studio – for example if the studio is to develop a student’s skill instead of on the quality of the product/artifact produced, then evaluations need to reflect that emphasis (Lang, 1983).

Consider breaking up assignments into stages so that students can give and receive feedback on their progress throughout the course.

Consider integrating peer and self-assessment strategies throughout the stages of an assignment.

Considerations for studios in different fields

  1. For the Sciences

Studios in the sciences can often be very similar to laboratories, perhaps with the exception of specialized equipment. Researchers found that organizing a studio space with the instructor’s table and workstation in the middle can facilitate visual and oral communication (Bailey et al, 2000).

The length and frequency of the studio meetings can vary, depending largely on class strength and course requirements. Instructors should keep in mind, however that they let enough time for experiments, activities, and discussion (Bailey et al, 2000).

The empirical nature of the sciences can be reinforced by interspersing discussion and problem-solving sessions with lectures, allowing time for feedback. Lecturing during studios works best if kept short to about 30 minutes, letting a physical movement in the class to retain student engagement (Bailey et al, 2000).

  1. For the Arts & Design fields

Studios in the Arts and Design fields require a high energy level, creativity and forethought not only from student participants but also from instructors (Lang, 1983).

Studios, especially in the arts and design-oriented fields are not spaces to teach theory, rather a place to see the implications of theory. (Lang, 1983)

Research suggests that theory courses followed by studio courses or the reverse are both fruitful ways of designing the curriculum and can depend on the instructor’s preference. (Lang, 1983)

  1. For Engineering

Instructors at the University of Montana and University of Oregon found that their students appreciated the studio environment, let them create realistic artifacts and conduct collaborative exercises among themselves. However, their students found that they were unable to keep up with the readings in an integrated studio/lecture environment. They therefore suggest separating lectures and studios in engineering. (Reimer & Douglas, 2003)